As humans, we depend on the environment to sustain the human race. However, there has been a lot of research stating that humans are the rot in the environment stating humans are destroying it. Humans are destroying the same environment that is sustaining human lives. There are many ways humans are destroying the environment, including plastic and air pollution and deforestation, to mention but a few. As such, the impact on the environment has been changes in biodiversity, ecosystems, global warming, and environmental degradation. Despite the detrimental effect that destroying the environment has on human life, some people believe that humans should not bother with protecting the environment, stating that, instead, humans should only realize their place in the environment. This document discusses why humans should go to extreme lengths in reducing the detrimental effects on the environment, considering the ethical principle of concern for others.
Humans have had a tremendous negative impact on the environment. As stated by Gough, “the advancement of the human race has been largely at the cost of the environment” (Gough, 2019). Human activity on earth has directly and indirectly caused global warming, biodiversity loss, mass extinction, ecological collapse, ecological crisis, global warming, and environmental degradation, among many others (Gough, 2019). The environment has always had to fit society’s needs, which have had detrimental impacts. Human activities like deforestation, pollution, population growth, overexploitation, and overconsumption are the direct and indirect causes of harm to the environment. The organisms around human beings have been primarily affected by the activities, and now the impact threatens the existence of the human race. Population growth has led to a decrease in natural vegetation and forests due to human inhibition. Industrial activities have led to significant pollution on the planet severely affecting the environment.
Having a concern for others means being aware of the harm and what can be done to improve the situation. Since the damage caused to the environment, directly and indirectly, points to humans as the cause, it should be the number one priority for humans to take care of the environment by all means possible. Taking care of the environment means that people are looking out for each other (Uitto, 2019). It is showing concern for others which might not be necessarily humans only but also other organisms. Other organisms have a working relationship in co-existing without having detrimental impacts on the environment. However, humans are failing in co-existing because they threaten the existence of other organisms. It is not fair that the world we should co-exist in is being destroyed by one race. Additionally, it is unethical to live in an environment worse than the current generation found it because other generations require the same environment.
Opponents state that humans should not worry about the environment. They say that people should switch from worrying about the environment to worrying about themselves. Humans should care for the well-being of other humans first before caring for anything else. It is unethical to consider the environment if people are suffering, for instance, from lack of land. Opponents argue that considering what is moral, the environmental needs will come after the human needs (Gough, 2019).
Humans should do everything possible to protect the environment as health is directly related to the environmental state. Humans should go as far as having policy options. Countries should have policies that promote caring for the environment. For instance, strategic investments can reduce migration which reduces pollution, overpopulation, and deforestation, which are harmful to the environment. Additionally, proponents state that” there is a flow of the 8 million tons of plastic pollution going into oceans each year”(UN, 2018). Governments across the world should have a global agreement on how to tackle the matter. Scientists state that there is a massive potential in curbing this problem with private and public collaborations. Plastic pollution is a significant problem threatening marine life, which can be mitigated. Reducing plastic pollution ensures the prosperity of marine life from which we greatly benefit. Active action with policy interventions can be effective in reducing the harm that humans are causing the environment. Many countries, as stated by the UN, have the policies created but are only lacking the political will for the implementation of the policies(UN, 2018). Additionally, as humans our biblical role after creation was to take care of everything else that God created. As such caring for the environment is our spiritual duty.
Opponents argue that humans should focus on protecting human life and ignore the environment. They say that humans are part of the environment similar to other organisms and should focus on their role in the ecosystem. Fern Wickson’s article discusses why humans should not worry about the environment. Wickson starts by stating that how people say “Protect the environment,” comes out as something that needs protection (Wickson, 2012). Wickson says that this type of thinking should be abandoned. The word “environment” makes it perceived as something distinct and separate from humans. According to Wickson, this is wrong because humans cannot exist independently as isolated units. Humans are part of the environment, and as such, they should worry about themselves. Wickson states research on the human microbiome showing that humans are connected with everything in the environmental concern for humans should come first and less worry of the environment. She states that humans have a beneficial impact on the environment, similar to how humans have many microorganisms in the body, including viruses and bacteria performing different important functions to well-being and health (Wickson, 2012). Everything on earth is interconnected with different dependency webs. She finalizes by stating that humans should not worry about how their activities are affecting the environment but rather how the activities are shaping individuals and who they are in terms of their ecological self.
The argument for doing everything possible to take care of the environment inherently roots in caring for human needs. Taking care of the environment means that humans can have better quality lives. Opponents state that humans should consider their needs first and learn their role in the environment. What both arguments are looking out for is protecting human life eventually. Uitto states that “There is not caring for humans without caring for the environment” (Uitto, 2019). Protecting the environment involves addressing human needs but in a sustainable manner to the environment.
Opponents state that human needs come before environmental needs. However, taking care of human needs involves taking care of the environment. For instance, destroying wild spaces leads to zoonotic diseases emerging. Alteration of wild areas to develop industries, homes, and farms increases the interaction with wild animals. This creates chances for spilling pathogens from wild animals and infecting people. Torres states that “Of all human infections, 60 percent are from animal origin” (Toress, 2018). It is in the best interest of humans to protect the environment to reduce the chances of animal-related infections. Any measures that can minimize contact with wild animals should be taken, like preserving the environment through having areas protected for wildlife. Humans should be limited in how they settle inland preserved for the wild. Additionally, over 7 million people die annually from infections and illnesses related to pollution. As such, caring for the human race is taking care of the environment first.
To sum up, considering the ethical principle of concern for others, it is imperative that humans do everything necessary to protect the environment. Protecting the environment is looking out for the human race and its future generations. Addressing human needs sustainably ensures that future generations also enjoy the environment. With there being potential to do more in environmental protection, people should take charge of caring for the environment and make it better.
Gough, I. (2020). Defining floors and ceilings: the contribution of human needs theory. Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, 16(1), 208-219.
Torres, Carmen, et al. “Antimicrobial resistance in Enterococcus spp. of animal origin.” Microbiology spectrum 6.4 (2018): 6-4.
Uitto, Juha I. “Sustainable development evaluation: Understanding the nexus of natural and human systems.” New Directions for Evaluation 2019.162 (2019): 49-67.
UN environment programme (2018) Sustainable protection of the environment always pays for itself www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/sustainable-protection-environment-always-pays-itself.
Wickson, Fern. “Why We Need to Forget About the Environment.” The Conversation, 29 Aug. 2012, theconversation.com/why-we-need-to-forget-about-the-environment-8818.
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